Four NCAA assistant basketball coaches were indicted in a fraud and corruption scheme — which also included managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major international sportswear company — by federal authorities on Tuesday.
According to the FBI complaints made public, the four coaches involved are Auburn assistant Chuck Person, Southern California assistant Tony Bland, Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson and Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans.
Evans was an assistant for the University of South Carolina's basketball team for four years, leaving in April of 2016 when he got the job at Oklahoma State.
The indictment does state that at least one of the claims happened in March of 2016 in South Carolina, when Evans was still employed at USC.
The indictment states that at least one of the claims happened in March of 2016 in South Carolina, when Evans was still employed at USC. According to federal documents, the group met at a restaurant near the University of South Carolina to discuss bribe payments and future clients.
"The University is aware that former assistant men's basketball coach Lamont Evans has been charged by federal prosecutors and learned of the charge from a press release issued by the Department of Justice," the University of South Carolina said in a statement. "Evans coached at USC from 2012 until April 2016. These are serious accusations that are not consistent with University of South Carolina values. Behavior like this will not be tolerated in our programs. Of course, we will cooperate with investigators and we look forward to justice being done in this case. Because this is an ongoing criminal matter, we will have no further comment."
Federal investigators made audio and video recordings of the meeting. Federal investigators say in one of the recordings an NBA agent discusses meeting Evans in either South Carolina or Atlanta to make money drops. Investigators say Evans later discussed on the phone that he was "on board with everything."
About a month later, Evans left the University of South Carolina for a position at Oklahoma State.
A total of four coaches nationwide were among 10 people facing federal charges in New York's U.S. District Court.
Messages made by USA TODAY Sports to the NCAA on Tuesday morning were not immediately returned.
Court documents reveal that the FBI and U.S. Attorney have been investigating the matter since 2015. The investigation revealed numerous instances of bribes being offered to potential student-athletes.
The six others named on court documents included: James Gatto (director of global sports marketing at Adidas), Merl Code (recently left Nike for Adidas), Christian Dawkins (NBA agent who was recently fired from ASM Sports for charging approximately $42,000 in Uber charges on a player's credit card), Jonathan Brad Augustine (president of The League Initiative and program director of the Adidas-sponsored 1 Family AAU program), Munish Sood (a financial adviser), and Rishan Michel (former NBA official who founded Thompson Bespoke Clothing line).
Adidas issued the following statement, in reference to Gatto: "Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an Adidas employee. We are learning more about the situation. We're unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more."
Names of specific schools involved were not named, only being referred to as University 3 — with numerals. One of the schools was based in the state of Kentucky and one of the schools was in the state of Florida.
The description of the school in Kentucky fits the profile for Louisville. The men's basketball program is on probation for NCAA violations after a former staffer was found to have arranged sexual favors for players and prospective recruits.
"We have no idea about any of this stuff," said Kenny Klein, a spokesman for the University of Louisville athletic department. "This is the first I've heard of it. Nobody in basketball is aware of any of this."
The profile of the school in Florida closely matches the University of Miami. The football and basketball programs were sanctioned by the NCAA in 2013 as part of a booster scandal that involved impermissible benefits. The probation for the violations ended last October.
Both Miami and Louisville are sponsored by Adidas.
University 1 was identified as Auburn, where Person was employed as an associate head coach and where he had previously played college basketball.
The FBI alleges in one complaint unsealed Tuesday that “Person abused his coaching position (at Auburn) to solicit or obtain bribe payments” from a financial advisor for professional athletes. That financial advisor, who was not named in the indictment, was working with law enforcement as part of the investigation unbeknownst to Person and the other defendants.
Over a 10-month period, the financial adviser allegedly paid about $91,500 in bribes to Person in exchange change for Person “agreeing to direct certain (Auburn) basketball players to retain the services (of the financial adviser) when those student-athletes entered the NBA.”
According to the complaint, Gato, Code, Dawkins and Sood “worked together to funnel $100,000 from (Adidas) to the family of a high school player in exchange for (the player’s) commitment to play at an NCAA Division I university whose athletic programs are sponsored by (Adidas).” The school was cited only as University 6.
Gato, Code, Augustine and Sod also allegedly agreed to make payments of as much as $150,000 from Adidas to another high school player to play at another school (referred to as University 7) in exchange for Dawkins’ services and a commitment to sign with Adidas after the player turned pro. Dawkins and Augustine also “agreed to facilitate payments to the family” of another unspecified high school player in exchange for that player’s commitment to University 6.
Michel, described in the complaints as the founder and operator of a clothing company in Atlanta, runs suit outfitter Thompson Bestow. A review of his client list --- which is no longer available online --- includes Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans, Sammy Watkins of the St. Louis Rams and Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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